Monday, July 1, 2013

Crazy for kimchi!

Kimchi. Kimchi! KIMCHI! As a long time fan of fantastic fermented foods (okay, that was too much alliteration, even for me), when kimchi made its sour, spicy, and salty (AHH! there is it again!) appearance in my life, I couldn't help but dive into the proverbial tub, soon to be actualized in your own kitchen, of its zingy, vibrant, probiotic goodness. 

(... actually, I don't recommend doing that, you'd probably smell like garlic forever). 

Not only is kimchi delicious on its own and in everything from traditional eats like kimchi pajun (pancake) and kimchi jigae (stew) to asian-inspired salads, stir-fries, and sandwiches - it's also naturally fermented and chock-full of cute little lactic-acid bacteria that (or, so I've been told) are quite good for you and your tummy. 

Sure, you could buy a big tub of kimchi at your local Korean market, but here at the blarg we're about getting in the kitchen, and getting our hands dirty - and in this case, SPICY!

And most importantly, make it with friends! More hands means diverse cultures to get your kimchi bubbling. Not to mention, more fun (and help with clean-up.... muahahah). 

Simple Fermented Kimchi
2 heads napa cabbage
1 large daikon radish
3 carrots
2 scallions
any other veggies you have around (I've added anything from cauliflower to swiss chard)
~1/2 cup salt

~3 inch knob of ginger, peeled
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup soy sauce (use tamari, if gluten-free)
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup korean red chili flakes

1. Slice up the napa cabbage into bite sized chunks. Set in large bowls, cover with salt (~1/2 cup total) and then cover with water. Let soak for 1 1/2 hours, mixing well every 20 - 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, thinly slice or julienne the radish and carrots, and slice the scallions. Set aside.

3. In a food processor or blender, combine the peeled ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar. Process until smooth. Stir in the red chili flakes.

4. Once the cabbage is done soaking, drain well. Combine the chopped vegetables with the cabbage in large bowls.

5. Using your hands (you may want gloves if you have cuts/don't want them stained orange), evenly distribute and massage the garlic/ginger/chili paste into the vegetables. Really work it between your hands for several minutes to help draw out the liquid from the vegetables. The cabbage will shrink down noticeably.

6. Pack the cabbage into jars or containers. Press the cabbage down to remove as many air bubbles as possible and cover it the kimchi liquid, leaving about 2 inches of space at the top (This is important! As the kimchi ferments, it will bubble and rise - occasionally overflowing. I open my kimchi each day during the fermentation process to press it down and let the air bubbles escape in order to prevent the juices from spilling out).

7. Cover and leave un-refrigerated for a day or two (or three) so the kimchi ferments. Store in the fridge. Eat on everything. 

Enjoy! :)


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